Dietribes: Soy Sauce


• Originating over 2,500 years ago, soy sauce was likely a way to "stretch" salt, a historically pricey find. Lucky us, it has remained popular despite the increased availability of its featured ingredient!

• Making soy sauce is now highly-automated, of course, but it used to be made by hand through a rather painstaking process. "One 19th century writer records that in China, the best soy sauce is 'made by boiling beans soft, adding an equal quantity of wheat or barley, and leaving the mass to ferment; a portion of salt and three times as much water are afterwards put in, and the whole compound left for two or three months when the liquid is pressed and strained.'"

• For those who prefer the ancient method, it will cost you - a Chinese recipe used in manufacturing Yuan soy sauce sets the price bar high at $21 for a 125-ml bottle.

• Salty and sweet is a classic combination, but I would never have expected a soy sauced-flavored Kit Kat, which is the brand's #1 best seller in Japan. Although the prospect for a crunchy bar of salt does appeal to me …

• In another unexpected combination, forget sour cream and onion flavor potato chips, how about soy sauce and mayonnaise?

• Don't play with your food … unless you're making art. Yes there is soy sauce art, as well as a photo that deserves to be: crystallized soy sauce, up close and personal.

• Not for the squeamish: the power of soy sauce (at least, its salt content) makes dead octopus dance (and frog legs, too! ... Yikes)

• You can also buy white soy sauce: "Clearer and thinner than traditional dark soy sauce, it has a light amber color that infuses foods without darkening them. With a remarkable flavor to elevate foods without overwhelming them."

• And I've saved the best news for last! Certain types of soy sauce - popular in Chinese cookery - have been shown to greatly reduce the levels of harmful cholesterol.

• Still can't get enough? Book a visit to the Marukin Soya Sauce Historical Museum. Touring soy sauce museums and factories is very popular, just as Kim Jong Il.

• Who else is a mega fan of soy sauce? I use it to flavor soups sometimes and sneak it in anywhere else I can!

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.